Sat 28 Feb 15
at 17:00 PM
The Report: Blues 1 Brentford 0
Blues ended their nine-match winless run with a battling and resolute display rewarded with James Tarkowsi’s own goal earning a valuable three points against promotion-chasing Brentford.
Clayton Donaldson, up against his former club, had a major role to play in the game’s decisive moment on 40 minutes. The striker put pressure on Tarkowski as he looked to get on the end of David Cotterill’s cross and the visiting defender inadvertently sent the ball past his own keeper.
The high-flying Bees didn’t seriously test Darren Randolph and it was Blues that looked more likely to add to their tally after the break with Demarai Gray going closest. The young winger was one of three changes to the side with Rob Kiernan and Andy Shinnie the others to be given a chance, Paul Robinson, Lee Novak and Wes Thomas making way. The hosts did have to survive a few late hairy moments after Stephen Gleeson was dismissed with three minutes to play but Gary Rowett’s men held on.
Blues made a very encouraging start to the game with Donaldson heavily involved. On 11 minutes the striker rounded keeper David Button far on the right hand-side of the box but from a very narrow angle wasn’t able to direct his shot on target. The big man was in the thick of things again six minutes later when his flicked header from Cotterill’s inswinging cross was turned aside by the Bees keeper.
Tarkowski glanced a header wide from a corner for Brentford but otherwise it was Blues that were the dominant force early on. The hosts earned three consecutive corners in as many minutes after Gray’s forceful run was stopped and then Shinnie’s shot was deflected wide. From the third corner Gray crashed a shot well over.
Alex Pritchard fired in a 30-yard free-kick that was easily collected by Darren Randolph on 36 minutes. But just four minutes later Blues deservedly edged in front from a great team move that was started in the middle of the park by Shinnie. Several players were involved and it culminated in Cotterill’s dangerous cross being turned past his own keeper by Tarkowski. Donaldson was initially credited with the goal but TV replays subsequently showed that it was the Brentford man that was responsible for the ball ending up in the back of the net.
Jonathan Douglas missed a great opportunity to level in first-half injury-time. Jon Toral’s cross found the midfielder unmarked just ten yards out but he headed over.
The visitors came out far more fired up in the second-half but apart from Toral’s wayward header they rarely threatened the home goal. At the other end Paul Caddis tried his luck as the defender cut inside and sent in a terrific drive that floated only narrowly wide.
Blues created the best chance to score the game’s second goal as Donaldson’s clever knock-down teed up an unmarked Gray but the teenager ballooned his shot over when unmarked just ten yards out and the goal gaping.
The hosts continued to press with Cotterill sending in a shot from 20 yards that Button turned aside. And just moments later Gray went even closer with a fizzing effort from inside the area that flashed only inches wide of the upright.
Gray was almost punished for some over elaborate play inside his own half. After showing terrific skill to win the ball back, he then lost possession to Toral but the midfielder’s 20-yard shot was comfortably saved low down by Randolph.
The Blues defence continue to stand firm with home debutant Kiernan looking particularly impressive, being in the right place time and again to clear the danger. The Bees had to rely on pot-shots from distance but Randolph dealt comfortably with Alan Judge’s 20-yard effort.
Blues were reduced to ten men on 87 minutes when Gleeson was adjudged to have stamped on Pritchard. It left Rowett’s men hanging on in the closing stages but they continue to put their bodies on the line and saw out the four minutes of injury-time to record a much-needed and fully warranted three points.